Robert Darrell Chain, a 68 year old California resident, was taken into custody by an FBI SWAT team on Thursday after allegedly making 14 threatening phone calls to Boston Globe employees in response to the newspaper’s editorial position on political attacks on the press.
The Boston Globe reports that Chain has been charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. He will appear in a LA court today and be arraigned in Boston at a later date, according to the Department of Justice announcement.
The 14 calls allegedly made by Chain to the Globe occurred between August 10 and 22. August 10 is the date the Boston Globe announced an invitation to papers nationwide to publish editorials denouncing President Trump’s attacks on the press.
During one call on Aug. 13, he said “We are going to shoot you [expletive] in the head, you Boston Globe [expletive]. Shoot every [expletive] one of you.”Boston Globe
Then, on August 16, when the Boston Globe and more than 300 other papers across the nation published those editorials critical of President Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” and “fake news” to describe the press, Chain is alleged to have threatened to shoot employees in the head that day. That threat resulted in Boston police being stationed at the downtown office that houses the editorial staff and the Globe hiring private security to protect its employees.
He allegedly said on Aug. 16, “You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every [expletive] one of you. Hey, why don’t you call the F, why don’t you call Mueller, maybe he can help you out buddy. Still there [expletive]? Alright, why, you going to trace my call? What are you going to do [expletive]? You ain’t going to do [expletive]. I’m going to shoot you in the [expletive] head later today, at 4 o’clock. Goodbye.”Boston Globe
When asked why he was making these calls, Chain explained he was doing so in response to attacks from the media against the President.
The affidavit quoted him as saying during another threatening rant on Aug. 22 that “you are the enemy of the people, and I want you to go [expletive] yourself. As long as you keep attacking the President, the duly elected President of the United States, in the continuation of your treasonous and seditious acts, I will continue to threats, harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news.”Boston Globe
The Department of Justice announcement on Chain’s arrest explained why these threats are being taken seriously.
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people, takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s arrest of Robert Chain should serve a warning to others, that making threats is not a prank, it’s a federal crime. All threats are taken seriously, as we never know if the subject behind the threat intends to follow through with their actions. Whether potentially hoax or not, each and every threat will be aggressively run to ground. These investigations are expensive and are costly to the taxpayers, can put innocent people at risk, divert law enforcement from responding to actual emergencies, and cause undue stress to victims.Department of Justice
Chain faces a maximum of five years, a year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, according to the DOJ announcement.
Why It Matters
Whether they are spoken in the Rose Garden, at a rally, or tweeted, the words of a president carry a weight that an ordinary citizen’s words do not.
“Trump Tweets” is a daily feature here at The News Blender, recording every single presidential tweet for posterity. On August 5, five days before Robert Chain first called the Boston Globe, Donald Trump tweeted:
The phrase “enemy of the people”, in modern times, has most recently been used in Russian propaganda. In the Soviet Union, a person labeled an “enemy of the people” could have their property confiscated and be expelled, imprisoned, or executed. Relatives of such a person could be imprisoned and stripped of their rights and friends were automatically under suspicion. That term has seen a resurgence in usage in recent years after falling out of use in the Soviet Union in the 1950’s.
It is not a phrase to be used lightly.
And now the President of the United States of America has made it a phrase in the American vernacular. Threats to the free press are being made in his name and with the exact phrasing he uses at rallies and on Twitter.
The free press is a gift the Founding Fathers left us, protected by the Constitution. It is comprised of human beings and fellow citizens. It is imperfect, messy, often biased, sometimes lazy, but always essential to our liberty. Speaking truth to power is how American citizens stay free. Silencing critics is the act of despots and tyrants and is profoundly un-American.
As is casually fomenting violence from the presidential twitter account.